MASTERS GOLF: Pressure is on leader Patrick Reed ahead of final day insists Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy reacts during the third round
Rory McIlroy reacts during the third round

Rory McIlroy insisted the pressure will be on Patrick Reed as the 2018 Masters prepares for a super Sunday shootout.

And the Ulsterman believes that could play into his hands as he aims to secure his first green jacket - and with it complete golf's grand slam.

The duo, who famously went head-to-head at the Hazeltine Ryder Cup back in 2016, will go out as the final group as Augusta looks to crown its latest winner (7.40pm BST).

Second-round Reed retained his lead at the top of the leaderboard after posting a moving day 67 (five-under par) in the wet and gloomy conditions in Georgia.

However, breathing down his neck is McIlroy, who made up two shots on the American after carding a error-free third-round score of 65 (seven-under par).

That included five birdies and a chip-in on eight for an eagle as the Holywood man posted his best score of the week.

Reed, who goes into today's play on 14-under, still has a three-shot advantage on four-time Major winner McIlroy (11-under).

But the man from Northern Ireland, who threw away a four-shot Masters lead in 2011, knows the weight of expectation could come into play for a player still chasing his first Major title.

'Patrick has got a three‑shot lead. I feel like all the pressure is on him,' said McIlroy after his third round.

'He's got to go out and protect that, and he's got a few guys chasing him that are pretty big‑time players.

'He's got that to deal with.

'I feel like I can go out there and play like I've got nothing to lose.

'If I can do that, I feel like I'll be okay.'

McIlroy lost out in that electric Hazeltine battle with Reed as the Americans claimed their first Ryder Cup since 2008 at Valhalla.

Many will see duo's latest head-to-head battle as the Ulsterman's chance of redemption.

But that's not how McIlroy sees the situation.

He added: 'I think it will be slightly different (to that Ryder Cup encounter).

'It's not Europe versus America. It's hopefully not such a partisan partisan crowd.

'But Patrick went to Augusta State. He's not a local, but he played very good golf here when he went to college, and I'm sure he'll have a lot of support.

'I also know that there's people out there that are wishing me well, and you know, hoping that I play well. So it won't be quite as intense as that Ryder Cup match.

'I think we'll obviously still be feeling it. It's the last round of a major championship, and we're both going for ‑ Patrick is going for his first and I'm going for something else. It's going to be good fun.

McIlroy added that this year's battle for the green jackett wouldn't be a two-horse race on the final day.

Rickie Fowler also shot a seven-under par 65 on Saturday to sit on nine under.

Meanwhile, Jon Rahm is a further shot adrift on eight under, with Henrik Stenson on seven under.

A respectful McIlroy said the those players could still have a major say in today's events.

'There's a lot more players in this golf tournament than just Patrick Reed and I,' he added.

'You've got Jon on eight, Rickie on nine, and even looking at Henrik on seven there.

'I know guys can get off to hot starts on a Sunday here, and you get a bit of momentum and do something.

'Rickie was five-under for the front nine yesterday; if he goes five-under for the front nine again today ,the golf tournament is wide open.

'It's definitely not a two‑horse race at this point. There's a lot more guys.

'Today, I'll obviously know what Patrick Reed is doing, but apart from that, I'm going to set myself a target, try to get to that, and hopefully it's enough.'